Running on Empty
It’s guaranteed that one day this spring I’ll wake up under the delusion I should go for a run. I will jump out of bed, slip on my sneakers and dash out the door. After two blocks, I’ll fall into the gutter, gasping for breath and dry-heaving into someone’s tulips.
And here’s the problem. I’ll keep running, trying to convince myself that if I run a few days a week, I’ll suddenly enjoy this hellacious activity. That’s like sticking a dinner fork in my eye thinking eventually I’ll get used to it.
Every year it’s the same. I hear the uber-fit group of ladies at the gym discussing their training for the latest marathon, triathlon or pentathlon, comparing times and carbo-loads, while I try to fade into the background with my Butterfinger “protein” bar. They have sprained ankles, ruptured Achilles, twisted knees, bruised heels and torn hamstrings—and they still run faster than me. It shames me into devising a running program every spring, even if it kills me.
One day while I was “jogging” through the neighborhood, a nice police officer pulled up next to me and asked, “Ma’am? Are you okay?”
At the time, I was doubled-over on the side of the road, trying to stuff my lung back down my throat. I nodded, grimaced in his direction and continued shoving pulmonary material back in place as I jogged off down the street. And by “jogged,” I mean ricocheted off chain link fences, tall shrubs and mailboxes.
The officer followed behind me, worried I was about to keel over—permanently. He’d sporadically blast his siren to warn people about my haphazard stumble through the neighborhood. Kind of like the officer who stops traffic to help baby ducks cross the street.
I’ve also tried to run with Ringo the Dog by my side. The problem is that Ringo can’t run in a straight line. He’ll serpentine in front of me, and around me, until he’s weaved his leash through my ankles, a fire hydrant and the neighbor’s Great Dane. It’s tough to run when you’re lying on your backside after crashing through someone’s fence.
Just for the record, I have “run” a couple of 5Ks. One mile into my first event, I had one hand on my waistband, holding up my shorts (I’d lost the drawstring somewhere along the course), and the other hand clasping my side which had erupted in spasms. I crossed the finish line with my nose running, arms flailing, feet pounding and my bright red face throbbing to the rhythm of my heart. Paramedics jumped into action to roll me under the nearest tree so I could die in peace.
But now, running isn’t enough: Mud Runs are all the rage. These obstacle course events make participants crawl under barbed wire, jump over fire lines, swim through ice water and set their own broken bones.
No thanks. I’ll be on the couch.
And no matter how high-tech running shoes become, unless they run for me while I sit in a hammock drinking lemonade, I’d rather spend my money on cute sandals.
So if you happen to look out your window this spring and see me stagger past your home, there’s probably a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex breathing down my neck or a horde of wild hyenas snapping at my heels. Or I might be chasing the ice-cream truck. Maybe just give me a drink of water and a ride home.